Retail giant Rewe ended its longtime sponsorship of the German football federation on Tuesday in protest at FIFA’s decision to prevent several European teams, including Germany, from wearing rainbow colored armbands during the World Cup.
On Monday, FIFA, the global governing body of world football, threatened to issue a yellow card to any player who wears a rainbow armband during the tournament. That thwarted a plan by at least seven European countries to wear versions with the phrase “One Love” during the tournament. The bracelets were intended to show support for minority groups amid ongoing concerns over the treatment of the LGBTQ community in Qatar, where homosexuality is a crime.
However, FIFA said the armbands violated strict uniform rules for the tournament and would lead to discipline, and national teams quickly pulled out. Rather than risk in-game penalties for valuable players, the teams said, they had asked their captains not to wear the armbands at all.
A day later, Rewe, a partner of the German federation since 2008, said it no longer wanted to be associated with FIFA after its decision.
“We stand for diversity – and football is also diversity,” Lionel Souque, CEO of Rewe, said in a commentary from Der Spiegel. “The outrageous attitude of FIFA is absolutely unacceptable to me as a CEO of a diverse company and as a football fan.”